‘Sometimes it felt like I was completely swamped’

k '(left to right) Aroura-Li Marsh (7), Fiona Marsh (13), Amelia Wardle (35), with Claiton Wardle (2) on her lap, and David Wardle (41) with Honi Wardle (3) on his lap
k '(left to right) Aroura-Li Marsh (7), Fiona Marsh (13), Amelia Wardle (35), with Claiton Wardle (2) on her lap, and David Wardle (41) with Honi Wardle (3) on his lap
Lloyd and Karen Clewer, the founders of Farm4Life, at Haslar Hospital, Gosport, where they store goods ready to send to Africa  (Picture by Habibur Rahman)

Ghana trip changed Fareham couple’s lives

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Amelia Wardle’s fifth pregnancy was a big surprise to her and husband David.

Although they were still delighted to be extending their family, it came with a familiar sense of fear for Amelia, who suffered post-natal depression after the births of all her other children.

And this time the arrival of a new baby would be coupled with looking after two other children under five, one of whom, Honi, now three, was extremely energetic and hard work.

Feeling very low, Amelia, 35, of Botley Drive, Leigh Park, confided in her midwife that she was really scared she would struggle with five children.

And that was when she heard about the charity Home-Start Havant for the first time. Gill, a volunteer, went on to change Amelia’s life.

Amelia says: ‘Honi was absolutely non-stop.

‘She was literally on the go 24/7 in a way my older children had never been.

‘She demanded attention 24/7. She wouldn’t go to sleep unless she was in our bed.

‘It was really full-on because she was absolutely full of energy all the time.

‘A health visitor was sent to decide if I definitely needed help from Home-Start.

‘They arrived just as Honi had woken up so she was quite mellow. At first they said I didn’t need anyone’s help.

‘But then Honi came to and the health visitor immediately said, “I’ll put the paperwork in!”

‘Honi is a lovely little girl but she’s hard work. She needs stimulating constantly.’

Amelia adds: ‘I knew that when I had Claiton I would get a bit down in the dumps because I’ve suffered from the baby blues after each birth and I knew I needed to get help because, with two children under five and a baby on the way, it was pretty daunting.

‘We did decide not to have another baby after Honi, so Claiton was a surprise to us. I come from a big family and I love having a big family but I was sterilised immediately after I had a caesarean with Claiton.

‘It is hard work. Sometimes it felt like I was completely swamped and there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

‘My husband works 12 hours a day and my family and friends are busy with their own lives.

‘I really needed an adult to talk to.’

That is where Gill stepped in. Home-Start provides volunteers who are experienced parents and visit mums – and dads – for two hours a week to offer practical support or a listening ear.

Gill, a grandmother, knew exactly what to do to help.

Amelia says: ‘Getting out with the children was a struggle. I felt isolated and lonely.

‘Gill comes round on a Monday afternoon and sits and we have a chat.

‘If I need a confidant she is the person I confide in. Gill watches the kids for me while I go off and do things in the kitchen – load the washing machine, do the washing-up.

‘She entertains the children and I know they will be 100 per cent safe with her.

‘This has been going on for two years now. This is the first time in five pregnancies I have not been depressed.

‘Normally I have to go on pills and I have not needed them this time.

‘If I had known about them before I would have contacted Home-Start then.’

Amelia, who is also mum to Tristam, 19, Fiona-Rose, 13 and Aroura-Li, seven, is doing so well that she and a friend from one of the Home-Start groups are doing a skydive to raise money for Home-Start.

She says: ‘I always try to give back. I’m not nervous about it, I’m excited.

‘I don’t think I would have had the confidence to have done it if it had not been for Home-Start.

‘Home-Start is the best thing ever.

‘If anyone else is in a similar situation, if they feel like they’re being swamped, they need to get in touch with Home-Start.

‘You need to ask your health visitor to refer you.’

Gill has been volunteering for Home-Start Havant for 10 years.

She has been working with Amelia for two years.

She says: ‘I know about parenting from experience. Bringing up a young family is difficult.

‘I’m now a grandmother.

‘When there are babies and young children there are a lot of stresses.

‘It is hard when there are no grandparents to step in and help through the initial stages.

‘I first went to Amelia when she had four children and she was expecting her youngest.

‘She really was quite depressed when I first saw her. I just let her talk to me really.

‘On the whole what I have done with almost all my families is just listen. It helps take the edge off problems if they get too much.

‘I have noticed a big difference in Amelia.

‘Two years ago she would not have had the confidence to have put all this effort into the skydive.

‘And she is getting out a lot more.’

To sponsor Amelia on her skydive, in June, go to homestart-havant.org.uk.